Thoughts on the Oculus Quest

I’ve been a long time fan of VR. I was an original backer of the Oculus Rift Kickstart, I’ve really enjoyed my Rift CV1, and I finally got my hands on an Oculus Quest a few days ago. Here are some stream of consciousness thoughts after about a day and a half of using it…

It’s incredibly impressive what Oculus has been able to pull off with such a compact, all in one package.

I did have a good bit of controller tracking issues when the controllers were by my sides and behind my head. It corrected their tracking quickly once they come back into view, but if you’re playing a game with fast action, you may see the controllers jump a bit as they come back into view and it’s jarring. The hand tracking was nearly as good as my Oculus Rift CV1 otherwise. Head tracking was as good or better.

Setting up Guardian is 100x easier on the Quest. You just look at the camera passthrough image, point your controller around the room, and you’re done. Super simple and it works well.

Guardian has some type of issue where fast sideways movements of the touch controllers can cause Guardian to activate even when you’re not near the boundary. This happened repeatedly in Beat Saber. Even though my hand never got closer than 1 foot away from the boundary, fast sideways swipes would always activate the boundary grid display for just a second or two. It doesn’t interrupt the game, but it’s very distracting.

Passthrough is very handy, but there should be a quick way to toggle it on and off if you just need to see the real world for a second. As is, you have to leave the Guardian boundary to see it. Walk too far and the passthrough image will fade to black. I’m assuming this happens because the passthrough view is distorted and delayed which can make you sick pretty quickly if you walk too much with the view active.

6.5′ x 6.5′ is the recommended play space. It works fine, but you really should have a bit more than that for most of the games just to leave some buffer.

The sound was “fine”. If you crank up up to 80% or higher, you can hear it pretty well…well enough to play any game I tried. Everyone around you will hear the sound at that volume though, so you definitely want headphones if you’re trying not to disturb people around you or if you want a good amount of bass.

The fixed foveated rendering is much more annoying than I expected, but it each app gets to control it so it’s not an issue in every game. For example, in Bogo, I would constantly see my pixelated hands toward the bottom of the screen. It was incredibly distracting, but if you always look at the center of your view and turn your head instead of moving your eyes, you won’t notice this. If there is a lot of fast action, you don’t notice this either.

The graphics are a very noticeable downgrade. The Oculus Home app was the only app I tried that felt pretty much at parity with PC, but no one was expecting apps to look PC-like, so no surprise there. I did find more realistic looking textures to look much worse than cartoony textures – e.g. Robo Recall looks relatively bad when you look at the cars near you in the streets, but you’re usually busy looking at the robots so you don’t have time to get too distracted. Beat Saber looks great though even though it isn’t parity with the PC version.

I don’t know for sure, but I think some of the games were dropping a few frames on my here and there. I don’t get motion sickness very easily in VR, but I started feeling slightly sick after trying several of the demos. It felt like there were tiny stutters every once in a while so I suspect that was more the cause and not the lower refresh rate (72Hz on Quest vs 90Hz on Rift CV1).

YouTube VR looks amazing. I was surprised how nice some of the 1080p/4K non-VR videos looked projected on the giant YouTube screen. The 180 & 360 videos on there worked great as well, but they just don’t look that crisp (not a problem with the app, it’s just a fact of life for these types of videos right now).

Skybox VR worked great as well. I tried streaming some Plex movies and it was fantastic.

RiftCat + SteamVR does indeed let you “play” Steam VR games on your Quest, but you probably shouldn’t yet. The latency is high and it’ll easily make you sick. That said, I was able to get Elite: Dangerous working with it so I could see my ship in the hangar in VR and that was great. I couldn’t get my HOTAS working with the USB-C OTG cable though nor could I get audio working. In a few months, I could see this being almost playable as long as you don’t mind some compression artifacts to keep the latency lower.

Steam Link works really well in the “TV” app (you have to sideload it). I tried streaming several games from my home PC and everything was playable and the text was readable.

The headset itself is really heavy to me. I know it’s not that much heavier than my CV1 on paper, but in practice, it felt very heavy on the front of my face. I had a really hard time getting a secure fit. Either the fit was relatively comfortable, but let the headset move out of the sweet spot (which seems awfully narrow to me) when playing something like Beat Saber OR the headset was very secure, but the headset was pressed into my sinus area so hard that it was incredibly uncomfortable.

Quick Tips for Oculus Quest

I spent the last couple of days messing around with my Oculus Quest and thought I’d share a couple of things I figured out along the way.

Lighting Matters

If you’re having more than a few tracking blips with your controllers, make sure you have enough light. I had better results when I had an overhead light turned on even though it wasn’t that dark without it. Playing near a sunny window also seemed to make the tracking a little worse, but I’m guessing it depends on the strength of the direct light you’re getting. There were also old, single pane windows so that may let the sunlight interfere more than modern windows.

Use a Controller to Calibrate the Floor

When you do the initial room calibration, it’ll show you an overlay on top of your floor and ask you to confirm it’s correct. For me, it looked correct in headset, but several games just felt off. Doors were too short, things were positioned awkwardly (like cubes in Beat Saber – they would be almost on the ground), etc. I re-calibrated and left one of the controllers on the floor during the floor calibration step…that solved all of the scale/positioning issues.

Android TV Apps

If you enabled “Developer Mode” on your headset (you do this in the Oculus mobile app under Settings for your headset), then you can use Android TV apps. You have to “sideload” them which will involved installing some developer tools, but once you have those tools setup, it’s trivial to load up a few apps. I tried Plex and Steam Link. Both worked great. I was able to stream Witcher 3 to my Quest and play on a giant screen without much lag using an Xbox 360 controller connected to the Quest’s USB-C port with an OTG cable. When you load these TV apps, you’ll have to use the “TV” menu in Oculus Home – they won’t show up under the normal library apps.

Get the Right Fit

I had a heck of a time getting the headset to fit properly. I followed Oculus’ instructions in the app, but to get the headset to stay in position, I had to tighten down the side straps so much that it was incredibly uncomfortable – far too much pressure on my cheek/sinus area. It did stay in place, but I couldn’t tolerate it for more than 20-30 minutes. I found this YouTube video that used an alternate method to fit the straps and it worked much better for me. I wouldn’t call it comfortable, however, this at least pushed the weight to my forehead which was certainly more comfortable than the original fit Oculus recommended.

I’m a little surprised I feel this way, but I’m actually underwhelmed with Oculus Quest. I expected I’d love it. I love aspects of it way more than my Rift, but at the same time, there are several things that bother me more than I expected.